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2004: 23-year old Fabian Cancellara, riding for Fassa Bortolo at the time, on his way to his first Grand Tour "stage" win on the very same prologue course in Liège where the 2012 edition will start.

June 27 update: In 2004, the “Grand Départ”‎ took place in Liège, Beligium where 23 year-old Fabian Cancellara took the first of many big wins in his career by beating Lance Armstrong by 2 seconds in the prologue. Cancellara achieved what few riders have done before by donning the Yellow Jersey on the first day of his first Tour. By the way, Dave Zabriskie accomplished a similar feat the next year while riding for CSC. Even rarer, this was Cancellara's first Grand Tour. Obviously, the host and organizers were happy with how things went because now, just eight years later, the Tour is returning to Liège to kick-off the 2012 edition. Liège is the only city to host stages of all three Grand Tours and this is the eighth time Liège will host a Tour de France stage. Of course, Liège is also the host of the oldest annual professional race in cycling, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one of the five monuments of cycling.

In addition to his 2004 Liège win, Fabian Cancellara also won the last Tour prologue (Rotterdam in 2010) and he's still the man to beat in this event, but last year's best time-trialist, Tony Martin, will be his biggest threat as will red hot Bradley Wiggins. This year's 6.4 km course on the Meuse river is almost identical to the course eight years ago -- mostly flat with a small bump near the finish and technical. — Steve

Prologue Start Order and Times (CET, subtract 6 hours for EDT) — letourdefrance